Galley Notes: Quick and Easy Pasta with Bacon, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Capers

This story/recipe recently appeared in Cruising World magazine. One of our favourite quick and easy meals this pasta tastes decadent but only requires 15 minutes and a few ingredients to make. I hope it whets your appetite and maybe solves that 1800 “What the heck am I gonna make for dinner tonight?!” problem.




I like to be organised, but menu planning is something I only do when passage planning, or if we have guests for dinner. Daily meals on board Kate, our 1973 Newport 41’, are much more off the cuff. Some nights it feels like I am cooking on one of those TV chef shows; a basket of random ingredients sits before me and I am expected to make an edible meal.

The sun was setting, and stomachs were rumbling, I had no dinner plans; it was definitely a quick-fire challenge. I grabbed a packet of spaghetti, easy. The sauce, however, would be a bit more difficult. I started with the basics; sweating some onions and garlic in a pan. The galley filled with a sweet, familiar aroma and inspiration, I started to forage for more ingredients.

There were a few slices of bacon in the fridge, the kind of ingredient that would not only add a smoky background to the sauce but would also make the meal feel decadent. We hadn’t seen fresh tomatoes in months but I had recently been given a large jar of sun dried tomatoes, they would have to do. To counterbalance the fattiness, I threw in the last of a jar of salty capers and seasoned it with chili flakes. I plated up and presented my dish to the judges.

The experiment was a success! The flavours of the few bold ingredients complimented each other perfectly and, better yet, there wasn’t many dirty dishes in the sink. Instead of becoming one of my famous ‘Franken-dishes’, this simple but elegant pasta has turned into one of our favourite go-to meals. I survived to cook another day…or perhaps just the dessert course.

Pasta with Bacon, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Capers – Serves 2

1/2 packet of spaghetti

3 Tbsp of Olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 slices of bacon, chopped

12 sun dried tomatoes in oil, diced

2 tsp of capers, roughly chopped

Pepper to taste

Chilli flakes and grated Parmesan (optional) to serve

Boil water and cook pasta al dente. While the pasta is cooking get out a large, heavy frying pan and put it on high heat. Add olive oil (for added flavour you can use some of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar!) when hot add onion and sauté until just translucent, add bacon and sauté until just crispy, add garlic and sauté 30 secs more. Make sure to stir frequently, loosening any bits from the pan to prevent burning. Add the diced sun-dried tomatoes and stir to incorporate. If pan is getting dry add a little more oil. When pasta is almost ready add the capers and a pinch of chili flakes, sauté for 1-2 minutes. Using a ladle carefully add 1/4 -1/2 cup of pasta water to the sauce to deglaze the pan and loosen the sauce slightly. Drain pasta and add to sauce pan, toss to coat. Serve with freshly grated parm, chili flakes and a good red wine.

  • This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled and can be serve with any long pasta, large shells, or my favourite gnocchi.
  • I prefer sun dried tomatoes in oil, if using dry sun-dried tomatoes soak in a little hot water to reconstitute and reserve water to add to sauce. Also, may need to add a little more oil to the pan.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. silvio pupo says:

    That pasta looks delicious…hope you guys well…

  2. Bruce&Anne says:

    OK I‘ll give it a try. Looks simple enough, and as you say, balanced. I‘m looking to expand on my six dish repertoire and this looks like a worthy candidate. Thanks.

    1. Heather Francis says:

      Also good with chicken if you don’t eat bacon but if using some leftover chook I would shred it about the size of the toms add ad it towards the end so it doesn’t dry out. Love to hear what you think!

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